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Northeast Hunkers Down As Snowstorm Hits

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The blizzard in New York City has not yet stopped the street crews.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREET SWEEPER)

INSKEEP: That is the sound of a street sweeper in New York, where the snow is underwhelming so far. Elsewhere, it is falling as much as 3 to 4 inches per hour, a very serious storm in many parts of the country. Roads are closed in five states that issued travel bans. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is covering the nor’easter. He was out walking the streets of New York this morning. Hi, Hansi.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's it looking like out there?

WANG: Well, it's very, very quiet here in the streets of New York, which is very unusual to see empty streets, even so early in the morning. I couldn't even get a cup of coffee. The most of the people that you see are cleanup crews. And the first guy I saw, his name is Angel Cartagena from the Bronx, he stayed overnight in Manhattan in the high-rise where he's working at. And he's what he told me.

ANGEL CARTAGENA: The mayor said don't go out. You know, it's going to affect the city if whoever went out, you know, is going to get stuck.

WANG: I mean, you're stuck.

CARTAGENA: Yeah, I'm stuck, but I have a place to stay tonight, you know? I'll probably be back home Wednesday night.

WANG: So he's stuck in Manhattan, so are other New Yorkers, wherever they are in the boroughs, because the subway is closed and so are the streets. And that's the same for folks in Boston. Also, there's a travel ban in Massachusetts, of course, but Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey. But, in New York right now, it really is a beautiful scene. You see kind of snow dusting all over the city, and it looks like kind of frosted buildings. It's a really nice kind of winter wonderland.

INSKEEP: Yeah, and I suppose the city never sleeps - people get a chance to sleep in since the city shut down.

WANG: There you go.

INSKEEP: But you mentioned that, even though things are not so bad in New York City, they are quite bad in other parts of the Northeast. What's going on there?

WANG: Yeah. Along the coast a lot of places are being pummeled, like places in Long Island, N.Y., and also just up the coast through Maine. There's about 3 to 4 inches falling per hour, as you mentioned, in some of those areas and more than a foot in some of those places that have accumulated so far overnight. And there's also reports of flooding in - along the Massachusetts coast because this storm - this blizzard's bringing such high winds where we're seeing flooding as high as 3 feet. And as the storm's making its way north right now this morning, Maine has just added itself to a list of states that have declared a state of emergency. And so this storm is not over yet, even though in New York, it's not as big as we expected.

INSKEEP: I'm glad you mentioned the flooding of up to 3 feet. This is a regular thing that people have to deal with the Northeast that I guess we should describe for the rest of the country. You sometimes have inbound winds that essentially blow the ocean onshore. Is that what's happening here?

WANG: Right, and there's a real threat to that shoreline. And, folks, officials warned that this might happen, and it is happening in some parts along the Massachusetts coast. And it's something we're watching.

INSKEEP: So how long is this storm going to last?

WANG: Well, we're expecting the weather conditions to continue for the rest of the day today, so people are pretty much going to be stuck home. And cleanup officials say it should start around midday Wednesday. But with - you know, in New York City, with the subway shut down and also in Boston, it's going to be an interesting kind of waking back up, if you will, to shut down such big systems and to get it back online again. That's going to be an interesting wake-up.

INSKEEP: Well, Hansi, enjoy your long, long, long stay in Midtown Manhattan, then.

WANG: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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